Universal Credit is currently issued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which oversees the payment and claimants. Britons are able to receive the benefit if they are on low income, or have found themselves out of work. In order to be eligible, one must be at least 18, but under State Pension age, and have £16,000 or less in savings.
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Universal Credit is usually paid monthly straight into the chosen account of a claimant.
But for those who are new to the system, the first payment of Universal Credit usually takes five weeks to be processed.
The five-week wait time has come under intense scrutiny in recent months, with calls for the system to be redesigned, or the rule to be scrapped.
However, in April, Universal Credit Director-General Neil Couling said getting rid of the five week wait would only stop people from getting money on time, as it would overwhelm the DWP.
Former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith stated the five-week wait had no purpose, but that he would not change it.
But for those who may not be able to afford to wait for this length of time to receive their money, a support measure is available.
Under the Universal Credit system, Britons who are in financial difficulties can apply for an advance payment.
Those who need additional help to pay their bills or cover other costs while they wait can apply to receive the advance payment.
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In order to be eligible, claimants must explain why the advance is necessary, and verify their identity.
They must also provide bank account details for the advance to be paid.
Claimants will usually find out on the same day if they can receive the advance.
The advance should be paid into a bank account within three working days, however, there is another exception which allows quicker payment.
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In absolute emergencies, Universal Credit can be paid on the same day.
However, those who are looking into bypassing the five week wait to receive an advance should stay alert.
This is not ‘free money’ and will have to be paid back to the DWP through instalments.
The beginning of the repayment process comes from a proportion of the first payment.
While Britons can choose how many months the advance is paid back over, it must be met within 12 months.
But claimants will not be required to pay interest on this amount – so the total amount paid back is the same.
Claimants may be able to receive up to 100 percent of their first estimated Universal Credit payment in the form of an advance.
Even if a person eventually comes off Universal Credit, they will still be required to repay the advance.
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